Is It Just Me?

Is It Just Me?

When did we begin the practice of excusing bad behavior, or ignoring it wholesale as the way to deal with offense? It seems to me that if you want to correct a behavior, you need to be direct in informing the offending party that they are being offensive, but maybe that’s just me. I was raised to not shy away from conflict as a means of resolving it, but to face it head on and have a discussion with that person because they too, are valuable to the tribe and the way we lived, you needed each other.


Of late there’s a new norm which infers that people are not worth knowing, or sharing with, unless they completely mirror the current thinking, or point of view and I’ve got to tell you, life is getting pretty vanilla and boring because of this trend. Sally, Sam, and Spot from our childhood books, are these days a far cry from the individuals we were raised to be and took pride in being decades ago. Fast forward to now due to the advent of shiny social media posts, glossy print and indoctrination television, now Sam, Sally, and Spot spend all their free time trying to be Dick, Jane and Scout and anyone who doesn’t fit the current brand of flash and sparkle on social media becomes a target for the leaders of the newest cause and must be isolated from the herd.


The most damaging trend seems to be the ghosting of the person, as if they have no value to us personally or societally, treating them as throw-away humans. Then we find in most cases, that the person being ghosted usually has no idea why this has happened to them, no one has said anything as to why they’re being cut off. As it usually happens, the offended party simply latched onto something the person posted, whether it was something they shared or created, or the ghoster found something that was stated on a call to be objectionable and blocked them, and many times this escalates into the ghosting party starting a whisper campaign against that person, without having the first bit of context for what led that person to posting, or making the statement that they found so objectionable in the first place, or far worse they doxed that person and now their life is in danger! I have observed these instances many times personally, and often found that the entire debacle arose from a simple misunderstanding, or misinterpretation.


 Having spoken with many people who have been treated this way, I’ve lost count of how many times I have heard it stated, that they have no idea what they did to earn the ire of the ghosting party and they are vexed at how, since they have no contact with the other party, they are supposed to address the problem, or repair their reputation and until this happens to you personally, you literally have no idea how damaging this behavior is, both psychologically and financially, and most unfortunately, sometimes physically. We must do better and not just for our immediate tribe, but for our worldwide tribe because the truth is, the minions of Oz over there behind the screen, those who are constantly pulling the levers and moving the goalposts on all of us, take great joy in seeing us separate from one another. When we let little things that irritate us, or differences of opinion divide us, it makes it so much easier for them to control us.


I’m adversarial by design so it’s in my obsessive nature to observe. So, watching this happen daily to everyone I know, as well as having experienced it myriad times in my own life, I find it repulsive, damaging, and dangerous social behavior. I feel that we have become incentivized by social media to behave as if offended as much as possible, incentivized to be more sensitive to things, to the point of being overly sensitive to everything, rather than examining logically the reasons we have feelings about these ideas at all, before letting them control our emotions. My approach to conflict, is that I always first think “was it me? Am I the problem in this situation?” before I escalate. Approaching conflict this way allows me to stop and examine my reaction, before I do permanent damage to a friend, or ally, and it has served me well. I have boiled the formula for removing that person from my sphere of reference down to one question which I ponder when these situations arise; “Are they hurting someone with what they are doing?” and I don’t mean simply hurting feelings, feelings are subjective, I mean are they damaging the other person spiritually, physically, or financially. If I find any of those injuries to be present, then and only then, do I cut off contact, because anyone can have a bad day, slip, and say something off-color, I tend to like those people who slip the tongue once in a while, they seem more natural and authentic to me, far more interesting that Bertha-Better-Than-You types. Full disclosure, if you don't slip up and say something odd, or curse around me, I tend to not trust you and worry that you're holding too much in and might fracture and go off the deep end, we've all seen the news, this effort to present the perfect aesthetic can have extremely dire consequences.


This is my philosophy on life; If I have given respect, I expect it returned, if I have extended my hand, the expectation at the absolute least, is that you don’t disregard me and treat me civilly. I don’t do things for others with the expectation of returns, the universe deals with returns, I just help where and when I can, because we are all related to every other molecule in the universe, we are all human beings and therefore fallible.

For all that is sacred, if you have a problem with me, have the intestinal fortitude… screw that, have the common decency to tell me to my face that I have offended you, or that you find my statement disagreeable, because if I value you as part of my life, I deserve to have a chance to make it right by being able to tell you the why and how of my thinking when I made the statement or post that offended. Please have the decency to do this with everyone, it’s not as hard as you think, it doesn’t have to result in a screaming match if you think it through first. It’s much harder finding yourself alone and if you act this way toward the rest of us too many times, you will indeed find yourself alone.


I promise you; this is the way, this is how we build a stronger, more committed-to-the-cause tribe. Many times I’ve had people angry with me because I’m friends with someone they dislike (even recently), reexamine my philosophy before you judge the situation because it has nothing to do with your feelings for them, it has everything to do with how they interact with me, if they are decent and friendly to me, I return that simple civility with like behavior and I likely treated you the same way, because that’s who I am. If you’re over there stewing about who someone is hanging with, get over yourself, every interaction is not about you, it’s not about me, or us, it’s about cooperation, community, it's about building something for the future and that requires cooperation and finding common ground. I have had many friends over the course of my lifetime who kept company with people who I found somewhat abhorrent; I can still be civil to them without feeling like I’ve got to take them home with me at the end of the day.


In life some things are far more important than my feelings, that something is trying to leave this world a better and more cooperative world for the generations that must follow us and frankly, we ain’t doin’ so good y’all, it might be time to step out of your feelings for the good of humanity. Stretch a little, don’t be so damn inflexible, I promise, it builds character and makes for a far more interesting and colorful life.


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